“At first glance Esther Okade seems like a normal 10-year-old. She loves dressing up as Elsa from “Frozen,” playing with Barbie dolls and going to the park or shopping. But what makes the British-Nigerian youngster stand out is the fact that she’s also a university undergraduate.
Esther, from Walsall, an industrial town in the UK’s West Midlands region, is one of the country’s youngest college freshmen”
The talented 10-year-old enrolled at the Open University, a UK-based distance learning college, in January and is already top of the class, having recently scored 100% in a recent exam.
“It’s so interesting. It has the type of maths I love. It’s real maths — theories, complex numbers, all that type of stuff,” she giggles. “It was super easy. My mum taught me in a nice way.”
She adds: “I want to (finish the course) in two years. Then I’m going to do my PhD in financial maths when I’m 13. I want to have my own bank by the time I’m 15 because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a great way to help people.”
And in case people think her parents have pushed her into starting university early, Esther emphatically disagrees.
“I actually wanted to start when I was seven. But my mum was like, “you’re too young, calm down.” After three years of begging, mother Efe finally agreed to explore the idea.
A marvelous mathematical mind
Esther has always jumped ahead of her peers. She sat her first Math GSCE exam, a British high school qualification, at Ounsdale High School in Wolverhampton at just six, where she received a C-grade. A year later, she outdid herself and got the A-grade she wanted. Then last year she scored a B-grade when she sat the Math A-level exam.
Esther’s mother noticed her daughter’s flair for figures shortly after she began homeschooling her at the age of three. Initially, Esther’s parents had enrolled her in a private school but after a few short weeks, the pair began noticing changes in the usually-vibrant youngster.
Efe says: “One day we were coming back home and she burst out in tears and she said ‘I don’t ever want to go back to that school — they don’t even let me talk!’
“In the UK, you don’t have to start school until you are five. Education is not compulsory until that age so I thought OK, we’ll be doing little things at home until then. Maybe by the time she’s five she will change her mind.”
Efe started by teaching basic number skills but Esther was miles ahead. By four, her natural aptitude for maths had seen the eager student move on to algebra and quadratic equations.
And Esther isn’t the only maths prodigy in the family. Her younger brother Isaiah, 6, will soon be sitting his first A-level exam in June.